While working with the 2019 #TechDiversity Awards team, I’ve been very lucky to work with some incredibly inspiring women and men who are leading the way in diversity amongst the STEM community and beyond. Helping to coordinate and execute the 2019 #TechDiversity Awards was a privilege; these are some of my reflections and highlights, emphasising the important role diversity can play across all organisations.

Leading by example

A great way organisations can introduce higher levels of diversity is through leading by example: i.e. does the management team reflect the level of diversity you would like to see?

The #TechDiversity team does this well. It starts at the top with the foundation’s board, which comprises predominantly women who are culturally diverse, age-diverse, neurodiverse and come from a range of industries. Having such a diverse leadership group offers diversity of thought on all organisational matters, meaning that #TechDiversity is never boxed in and the business environment is one where new ideas and critique are accepted and encouraged.

For us it is important that members of our organisation reflect what we stand for and where we want to go. This culture can be easily translated beyond a diversity-driven organisation such as #TechDiversity and is equally important across all industry. Our world is diverse and ever-changing, and our workplaces need to lead by example in order to reflect this.

Seeing is believing

Often in the diversity sphere we focus a lot on what is not being done, and it can feel like a never-ending uphill battle for representation and inclusion. For me, being involved in the judging process and regularly communicating with nominees that are passionate about diversity and actively driving the cause forward has been a refreshing reminder that real steps are being taken.

I was inspired to see initiatives that are going above and beyond the norm and setting a new bar for expectations. It’s exciting to consider what is to come in this space – the award nominations spanned successful programs that encourage gender inclusion, re-skilling programs, and virtual reality tech that helps share crucial indigenous stories and culture, to cite just a few.

These initiatives stretched across a variety of industries. Since technology is so integrated within our lives, organisations and governments, these tech-focused awards and initiatives go beyond what might be considered traditional “STEM businesses”… and so does diversity.

Diversity goes beyond gender

One of my biggest take-aways from this event is that the next stage for STEM diversity – and diversity in general – is going “beyond gender”.

I think it’s easy for us to confuse greater gender equality with diversity – even at events like the #TechDiversity Awards that try to be holistic in their inclusion and approach. Gender is one part of the puzzle, but diversity is greater than this.

We all need to consider how we can make our workplaces – and lives – more diverse. This includes surrounding ourselves with people who may have different cultural and racial experiences, different sexual preferences, diversity of bodies including non-abled, neuro-diverse people, and people with diversity of thoughts and opinions.

Surrounding ourselves with people who are different to us strengthens important qualities like empathy, compassion, divergent thinking and innovation. These are all skills that make a great workforce, manager, team member and person.

Celebrate and communicate

The #TechDiversity Awards culminated in the gala dinner on the 12th of September 2019, which saw our passionate nominees, sponsors, winners and guests come together to celebrate what has been achieved in the diversity sphere, and what is yet possible.

It was inspirational to hear from speakers such as Harriet Green OBE, the current CEO of IBM Asia-Pacific, who demonstrated the power of diversity at an international level by one of the world’s biggest and leading tech companies.

Similarly, seeing the pride of this year’s winners was inspiring. The winners embraced the opportunity to share heartfelt stories of adversity and how these obstacles have been overcome through diversity. These speeches truly moved the room.

One speech that particularly stood out to me was the 2019 People’s Choice winner: Deloitte Australia’s Outstanding 50 LGBTI+ Leaders. Upon winning this award, the Deloitte speech spoke of how this example of diversity and inclusion had literally saving a young man’s life, demonstrating the breadth of value and importance of these diversity and inclusion programs.

 

The #TechDiversity Awards gala dinner was truly a showcase of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry and a springboard for further improvements and initiatives in this sector.

These are just four of the many great takeaways I gained after working on this year’s #TechDiversity Awards. Congratulations again to all this year’s winners, nominees and attendees; you have all contributed to furthering the diversity cause in some way, shape or form. I am looking forward to the future of #TechDiversity and diversity in general.